Employing Foreign Workers in Vietnam

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In 2011, the number of registered foreign employees in Vietnam exceeded 74,000, which is a staggering number compared with the last three years where the numbers remained at around 55,000. As more companies employ foreign staff to work in Vietnam, management needs to be aware of some core legal issues before sending staff on employment assignments in the country.

Who Can Work in Vietnam?

Foreigners wishing to get jobs in Vietnam must be at least 18 years old and be healthy enough to satisfy the job requirements. Only those with high technical skills or high professional qualifications regarding service and with considerable experience may be employed. As with other jurisdictions, a foreign employee is required to prove that he or she does not have any criminal record with a national security offense, and must not currently be subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in accordance with Vietnamese and foreign laws.

Grounds for Employment

The law lays out clearly different forms under which a foreign employee may work in Vietnam. Generally, a foreign expatriate may enter into Vietnam to work only under the following grounds:

Performance of a labor contract between the foreigner and a Vietnam-based company.

Internal transfer within an enterprise that has a commercial presence in Vietnam.

Performance of a type of contract (but not a labor contract), namely economic, commercial, financial, banking, insurance, scientific and technical, cultural, sporting, educational, or medical health contracts between a foreign entity and a Vietnam-based entity.

Service providers pursuant to a contract or, in other words, contractual service suppliers.

Service salespersons.

Foreigners representing a foreign nongovernmental organization that is permitted to operate in Vietnam.

Persons responsible for setting up a commercial presence.

Visa

Foreigners entering Vietnam must have a valid passport and visa, and must be able to state the purpose and length of their stay in the country before they can be granted entry. Visas may be applied for, and issued, at the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Police, a consulate office under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a foreign representative office, or a Vietnamese consulate overseas. If a visa applicant is already in Vietnam, he or she may apply to the Vietnamese immigration authority for a visa. The maximum visa term for a foreigner working in Vietnam is 12 months. Visas cannot be renewed once expired, but a new one can be applied for if necessary.

A foreign worker with a valid work permit may also apply for a Temporary Residence Card for a period of up to three years. The application must be submitted to the provincial Immigration Department, and may include supporting documents such as a housing lease contract and an employer's certificate of incorporation.